Friday, May 23, 2014

Bucs Hang On By A 4-3 Count For Their Third Win In A Row

The Bucs could stand good Charlie tonight; half the bullpen is off due to overwork. And Morton started off well, getting the first pair of Nats before losing contact with the dish and walking the next two, but he escaped with a zero. The Kid got the game's first hit, a one-out knock off Jordan Zimmerman, but was erased on a 6-4-3 DP authored by Cutch.

After K'ing the first two hitters in the second, Nate McLouth drew yet another two-out walk before Zimmerman bounced out. Already at 44 pitches, Morton could use a couple of efficient frames.

The Bucs gave Charlie a little breathing room. Ike opened with an infield single off Anthony Rendon's glove. Russ Martin, in his first at-bat in a month, was given a free pitch when strike three was missed by the plate ump Todd Tichenor and took advantage by doubling to left. Pedro K'ed looking on a ball that was outside the dish as the ump giveth and taketh away. But a Starling Marte grounder and wild pitch that Wilson Ramos tried to pick instead of block made it 2-0.

Denard Span opened the third with a double to right and was bunted up. Morton issued his fourth walk of the day to Jayson Werth, which worked out nicely when Ramos banged into an easy 6-4-3 DP to close the frame without any damage. The Bucs went down in order, but not until Cutch drove a ball just short of the wall on a liner that died at the end.

Ian Desmond singled to open the fourth and stole second an out later, but was stranded although the Nats did squared up on a couple of balls that Marte and Cutch corralled. Pittsburgh added a pair when Ike led off with a single and an out later Pedro dropped one on top of the Pirate shrubbery in dead center. Marte got aboard on a wide throw from short and went to third on a hit-and-run single by Clint Barmes. He was nailed at home on Morton's bunt, straight back to the box, and that hurt when Josh lined a single to left but so hard that Barmes had to hold at third, and the bases were left jammed as The Kid popped out.

Zimmerman led off the fifth with a soft liner that dropped into right. Morton, usually snake bitten, caught a break with Span, who lined a 3-2 pitch and had it ticketed for the corner, but Ike, holding the runner, reached up, brought it down and stepped on first for the DP. A Rendon fly ended the frame; Ground Chuck hasn't had a ball hit the dirt since Ramos' third inning DP. The first two Bucs went down, with Davis' drive falling a couple steps short of landing in the bullpen, before Russ walked. Pedro went the other way, but the Nat's weren't in a full shift and it ended up an inning-ending 5-3.

Charlie had his problems in the sixth. Werth singled up the middle, Ramos dropped a bloop into right center, and Desmond was clipped on the shoulder on a 1-2 pitch to load the sacks with no outs. After a sac fly scored a run - Marte's throw wasn't very good - and a K, Clint took him out after 107 pitches and brought in Jared Hughes to face Nate. McLouth bounced one up the line; Davis knocked it down and flipped to first to end the frame. Barmes was brushed on the arm with an out and stole second as Travis Snider whiffed. Josh sent one to the track in center for a loud third out, the third ball the Bucs have shipped just short tonight.

Justin Wilson took over in the seventh. He gave up a one-out single to Span; the Nats have had a runner on every inning. He advanced to second on a wild pitch with two outs, but was left when Werth flew out softly to left. Drew Storen worked a clean half for the Nats.

Wilson came out for the eighth. With an out, a walk and a single, followed by a broken bat pop that fell between three Pirates, loaded the sacks and brought on Bryan Morris. He gave up a deep sac fly, scoring a run and moving a runner to third, then tossed what was ruled a passed ball to make it 4-3. Morris then hit Danny Espinosa in the knee on a 1-2 pitch, causing a bit of barking, but he got a comebacker to finish the frame.

Tyler Clippard came on and survived a couple of balls hit on the nose; Martin's drive to left was caught at the wall just to the right of the 383 mark and Marte lined a shot to left that the OF'er didn't have to move to catch. And with the 2-3-4 hitters due up, Jason Grilli got the call in his return to action. He walked the lead off hitter, then got a K and some CPR as the Ramos took a ball just short of the track in straight center and  J-Hay climbed the Clemente Wall to haul in a drive by Desmond.

Morton put up zeroes and got his first win, but didn't help the bullpen any. Morris had another rough outing and Grilli got the save but was all over the place with his stuff, though his slider was sharp; the ninth inning of a one run game against the meat of the order is a tough place to begin rehab.

In hindsight, Clint might have tried to get an inning out of Hughes and spare his pen instead of burning four guys. Still, he's in a rough spot when it comes to managing the relievers until he gets some help from a starter.

In a much anticipated match up, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg hook up tomorrow night.

  • The Pirates have won four-of-five games and three in a row.
  • Clint Barmes got his first stolen base since Sept. 18th, 2011 as an Astro.
  • The never-ending cleanup experiment with Pedro came to an end as he batted sixth in the lineup. 
  • Washington had runners on in every inning, but were 1-for-9 with RISP.
  • The Bucs are catching the Nats without Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, all of whom are currently on the DL.
  • Tonight's crowd was 31,592 fans.

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